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Jul 10, 2002 - 06:50 PM  
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The Syndicate

The Syndicate

I came across this guild by looking at top veteran member rankings at the UO community Site where they are at the top with 417 members listed.

It's certainly a very well marketed and successful guild. Wherever you run a UO related search, The Syndicate always shows up in a lot of the search result annotations. 

What impressed me the most is how it looks on paper:

General Information
 

Date Founded:
Overall Guildmaster:
Total Number of Members:
Primary Focus:
Major Games:
Minor Games:
UO Shard:
EQ server:
Percent Adult (18+) Members:
Percent Female Members:
Percent International Members:
Average Member Age:
 
March 1996
Dragons
More Than 550 Active
Role Playing Games
Utima Online & Everquest
Diablo II
Atlantic
Tarew Marr
75%
12%
25-30%
28.5
 

 

 

Recruiting Information
 

Apps Received Per Day (Avg):
Average Response Time To App:
Percent Of Apps Accepts:
Number of Apps To Date:
Requirements:
 
10
1.5 hrs
7%
Approx. 15000
Referral From Member & Solid Game Knowledge/Experience
 

 

Guild Orientation
 

Stance on Pkilling:
Stance on Cheating:
Stance on Bug Use:
Penalty For Above Actions:
Stance on Consensual Pvp:
 
Anti
Anti
Anti
Removal
Pro
 

 

Misc Information
 

Avg. Lifespan Of A Guild:
Avg. Size Of A Guild:
Avg. Pct Adult Members:
Avg. # Games A Guild Is In:
Avg. Stance on Pkilling:
 
3 months
< 20 members
< 40%
1
Approx 70% Anti
 

 

The Interview

While I was checking out The Syndicate, I noticed it's organization into various squads, The Syndicate Guard, even an intelligence agency called the SIG.

Dragons, the Syndicate's GM answered a few of our questions about the guild's structure:

 Virtues: I noticed your guild structure of squads, the TSG, and the Syndicate Intelligence Corps.


    Did anything inspire you to set this up the way you did, and if so, where did you draw from to set up this kind of structure?

Dragons: The Syndicate's structure is loosely based around a military unit or a successful corporation.  Units/Groups within a whole that report up a chain of command with leaders at different levels to ensure everyone is
taken care of and information is passed out and issues are resolved. Ultimately, there is a guildmaster that makes the key decisions and accepts the responsibility for mistakes.

Virtues:  Before your current structure, had you tried other setups?
 

Dragons: The Syndicate has always used its current structure although it has evolved somewhat over time become more streamlined in some areas and adding in new levels in other.   Being around for many years as a guild and learning from past mistakes has led to those changes being made but
the core structure and principles are the same as they were when we were
formed.
 

Virtues: Which other online guild do you admire for it's strategy, structure, accomplishments?

Dragons: There are a great many online guilds in existence.  Most are short term guilds between a group of friends seeking to have a good time together with short lifespans. There comes a point where a guild ceases to be a gaming guild and becomes what was termed an OGG (Online Gaming Group) or OGC (Online Gaming Community) and it is no longer tied to a specific game nor even necessarily gaming itself.  Those types of groups tend to give the most back to gaming often running major news sites and huge events for players in game. There are very few of those entities around (although some claim to be one but aren't really) and unfortunately over the years, many have ceased to exist.

But to answer your question specifically, The Syndicate admires mature, professional gamers more so than any one group. Those gamers that don't stoop to the level of using exploits and cheats.  Those that don't take pleasure from griefing other players.  We admire those who seek to be part of the online  gaming community, enjoy the games they play and give something back.  The l33t d00ds merely give gaming a bad name and overshadow the many good people in gaming.







 

Virtues: Which historical figure do you admire most?

Dragons:
There are many great historical figures that I like.  All of them have their good and their bad points.  If you explore their bad points, and consider ways to avoid them and if you utilitize their good ones, you can achieve greater success when using them as a model.  General George S. Patton, Julias Caesar and Alexander The Great were all outstanding generals who's attitudes, and aggressive tactics still inspire military tactics today.  Much of online gaming is using group tactics to accomplish a goal very much akin to a military unit taking group or defeating a target on the battlefield.  Lessons from those three great
generals lend themselves to online gaming battlefield success.

Virtues: Could you please give us some background on how squads are formed, squad structure, and purpose?

Dragons: Squads are formed by the guildmaster, Dragons.  They are created based on the needs of the game.  In Everquest, for example, they were formed around different races since in the early stages of the game, those races were mostly isolated from everyone else.  The squad structure has a squad leader who handles day to day squad level operations and communications.  Often there is a squad Lt. and sometimes a squad event coordinator as well.  Squads primary purpose is communication.  To ensure every member has easy access to a guild leader who has easy access to the guildmaster.  This ensures that all issues are resolved and that every member has a voice and an avenue for feedback, ideas and concerns.  It also ensures that important guild communications are disseminated to all members in a timely fashion.

Virtues: What's the biggest advantage of the squad system in practice?

Dragons: Communication and organization are the primary advantages.  Members have a clear avenue for feedback.  A clearly defined chain of command.  And important guild communications get out to all members.


Virtues: Have you had any major problems with squads? Could you please give us some examples?

Dragons: The only real issue squads could pose for a group would be if a squad leader were lax in their duties.  We have checks and balances in place to ensure that doesn't occur or that if it does, the squad leader is replaced.  Picking the right people.  Ensuring standards are met.  And setting new and higher goals for the whole team to meet, ensure major problems don't arise.  About the worst issue that could arise would be for a member of any rank to get mad over a guild policy and quit.  That has next to no impact on a guild of our size, structure and longevity so its not a major issue.

Virtues: How do you keep squads from breaking away from the main guild body and going independent?

Dragons: Squads are not independent entities.   People don't join a squad.  They join The Syndicate.  They are assigned a squad for organizational and communications purposes.  We function as one team and don't segregate people by squads.  So there is no concept of a squad breaking off in the guild as it stands today.  Squads are merely organizational entities for communications purposes.  One of the most common misperceptions about us is that people think squads are actually little guilds operating under some global title called The Syndicate, which is not even close to reality.

Virtues: How many people are active in the SIC (Syndicate Intelligence Corps)?

Dragons: The SIC varies in size over time.  At times it can be as low as 10-15 people or as large as 50-60 people.

Virtues: How are they selected?

Dragons: Id rather not go into how we decide who is and isn't a correct resource to place in our intel group.  To do so would compromise our ability to pick the right people by making it easier for a counter intel agent to get into the group.

Virtues: Could you tell us what the people involved with the SIC do?

Dragons: The SIC is in place to look out for the Syndicate's interests.  That can range from seemingly mundane (but important) tasks of monitoring key cat boards, to active in game intel gathering to infiltration of another guild and becoming a full member of them and relaying information back to us.  There is an old adage to keep your friends close and your enemies closer and as such, we have agents in nearly all guilds hostile to us.  Some have been there for months or longer riding along and keeping us informed of their plans as they relate to us or our
friends/allies.

Virtues: Could you share an SIG success story?

Dragons: Id rather not go into specifics.  The SIC has been responsible for destroying enemy guilds from within, taking over enemy property and bases and alerting us to plans to cause us harm.  Since The Syndicate is an honorable, anti-pk guild, our enemies are typically considered anti-social players by most others and so we also pick up information that other honorable guilds are targets and we pass that along to them as we learn it so they can prepare for hostilities.

Virtues: How are the SIC operatives kept loyal?

Dragons: That's not really an issue.  By limiting an operatives knowledge of other operations.. by recruiting the right people.. by treating them with respect.. and by having safeguards in place to ensure they aren't playing both sides of the fence or working against the guild, loyalty isn't an issue.  Some will quit over time, but that's part of gaming and not an issue or concern.


Virtues: Have you had any major problems with SIC members?

Dragons: SIC members operate independent of each other and without knowledge of other members.  So the worst that could happen is that someone would supply false information.  We counter that by having some safeguards in
place such that we can verify any information we receive on any major threat.  So supplying such information merely gets the person caught and removed the first time.  Other than that an agent could quit, but that's the nature of online gaming.  People come and go all the time and that's
not a problem or a concern.

Virtues: What games is The Syndicate looking to in the future and why?

Dragons: The Syndicate is very open about future games out there.  Shadowbane is
deep into its beta now and we are certainly looking heavily at that. AC2, EQ2, Horizons, Warcraft Online and several others are all floating around out there.  We maintain a staff that watches MMORPG development, interfaces with development teams, ensures we have mass numbers signed up for all major betas etc... so we are informed on all major games coming down the road.  We evaluate our current games and if we need a new one, we move to it.  If we don't, we pass on it.

We are a fantasy MMORPG guild so our future game choice is limited to those gaming types.  You wont see us in Star Wars Online or something like that.


Virtues: Have you looked at Asheron's Call / Asheron's Call 2? Any comments?

Dragons: The first AC didn't fall at a right time for us.  We were heavily involved in UO and EQ and the game only had minimal interest in the guild.  AC2, given its current development schedule may well come at a better time for us.  we are watching it.  It does have some very nice things about it including nice graphics.  We continue to watch it heavily and will be looking forward to reading more information as it becomes available.

Virtues: What was the Syndicate's darkest moment? Could you elaborate a bit? How was it handled?

Dragons: The Syndicate is a very old guild.  With 6+ years under our belt, we've had our share of bumps in the road to compliment years of astonishing success.  None of them were really "dark" though.  Occasionally some quits the guild because they are unhappy with it, its leadership or its policies and they wish to explode on the guild verbally or perhaps to form a counter guild.  Sometimes they take a couple friends with them. That may cause some stress or tension with some members for a short while, but it quickly fades and never seriously affects the guild. 

With 525+ members, 4000+ applications to join a year, a very highly structured team with detailed and frequent communications who is focused around being a team of friends and having fun, those kinds of issues have an affect on a limited number of people causing short term stress that quickly evaporates.  The end result is a guild that rallies around its flag, grows more unified and stronger.  If we hadn't had some bumps in the road we wouldn't have evolved some of our policies or become as unified and as strong as we are today.


Virtues: Where do you get the statistics on your guild page?

Dragons: Statistics like that come from several sources.  First off we have a number of members who, over the years, have helped us conduct statistical studies on other guilds as well as on our own.  That has been an invaluable source of information.  Second, some of our members are/have been game developers and staff and that has provided us insight into those areas as well.  Third, there was a very nice thesis study done on EQ players that contains far more information than that.  I don't have the site handy but it was well known in the EQ community for demographic information.  Fourth, over the years we have had members on many news site staffs and run a number of polls and forum topic questions designed to gather than information.